Magazine

The Amateur Parker Ö

Big Money for a Little Parking

By Melissa Bean Sterzick

Having lived a fairly commonplace, average-Josephine kind of life, I am easily shocked. I grew up in a small town, attended a religious college, married at 25, and have been quietly, although not really calmly, going about my mediocre way in the realm of adulthood ever since.
Iím shocked by R-rated movies, the latest trends in drastic facial piercing, and the United Statesí decline into welfare statehood. But nothing could have prepared me for the bit of news I heard this summer.
Just a few weeks ago, a parking spot in the Back Bay area of Boston sold for $300,000. Yes, thatís three-hundred-thousand-dollars. The amount is reported to be the highest price ever paid in the city for that type of real estate. Not only that, the original asking price was $250,000, but several interested parties bid against one another to the tune of fifty-thousand bucks.
To put this gargantuan price into perspective: I could buy my first car 200 times over or my current car 16 times over with that much money. I could put 12 million quarters in the meter down by the beach where I live and park for 30,000 hours. At $8 bucks a day, I could park for 37,500 days in an LA city day lot.
I could pay for my college education 12 times over. I could pay to have my gall bladder removed 30 times (once was really enough, but itís a good comparison). I could pay for my wedding 25 times over (once was enough). I could make a serious dent in my mortgage. You get the picture.
And while I pride myself on being a person with a healthy vocabulary and good communication skills, the only words I can think of to describe my reaction to this staggering and unimaginable transaction are usually spelled like this: *&%#@!
I guess itís tough to park in that neighborhood, although itís difficult to imagine a place so crowded that residents are motivated to pay that kind of money for parking. OK, so I donít have that kind of money, and most of us donít.
But even if we did, would we really feel good about forking out so much cash for a place to leave our car? How much is convenience really worth? Wouldnít $300,000 feel better in our pocket, the box springs or the bank than it would lying under our car waiting for the inevitable leak?
Also, only a few cars in the world that cost that much money can actually be driven on city streets, so itís a pretty sure bet the parking space cost more than the car in it. The mind boggles.
What I wonder is how you police a spot like that. If parking is at such a premium, a lot of drivers have to be willing to poach a little. When you come home after a long day of work and find a beat-up Toyota in your pricey parking spot, what do you do? Sue them for a couple mil? Maybe an extra $25,000 a year could pay for a security guard to scare off trespassers, kick the neighborhood dogs as they go by, and wave off any children on bikes.
And how do you landscape around such a plot of land? Golden statues, champagne fountains, money trees? What about upkeep? Itís not as if you could take a regular old garden hose and spray off the inevitable soot and dirt.
Perhaps it would require the hiring of a specialized parking-spot cleaning crew that would arrive once a week with imported mineral water, silken shammies, and a special concrete polish made from caviar and the earwax of a thousand tiny minks. The crew would have to wear booties over their shoes, of course, and leave a trail of rose petals, or loose diamonds, behind them.
If you have the funds and are prepared to drive a $150,000 car and park in a $300,000 parking space in front of your $2.5 million condo, there seems to be a dangerous precedent. Whatís next? Bottled water for $1,000, a frozen yogurt for $10,000 and new shoes for $80,000?
Iíd like to know what it feels like to park in a $300,000 parking spot. Itís probably not much different from parking in front of my house or at the grocery store. Pull in, turn off the engine, get out, go inside. There will still be rain, wind, dust and bird poop.
Maybe Iím just envious, but Iíll consider that later when Iíve finished thinking about all the things I could buy with that kind of money.
Melissa Bean Sterzick is PTís amateur parker and proofreader. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.

Article Abstract from September, 2009




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